Do you love biking? We certainly do, but one of the best ways to bike and perform other activities is to have our best friends with us. If you have a dog with a lot of energy that just walking doesn’t quite give them the exercise they crave, cycling with your dog may be the right activity. In this article, you will learn how to bike with your dog in a way that is safe for you, your dog, and other road users.
Back in the old days, merely attaching a dog to the bike with a leash and collar was fun. We did try it as kids. Except for some bruises and scratches, the activity was considered safe enough. But it wasn’t!
There are several things to consider. Prominently training and equipment. You want to prevent your dog from pulling you, hence the training, but appropriate equipment makes the ride smoother. You also do not want to distract your attention from biking, mainly if you bike with road traffic.
- Get the dog leash attachment for your bike. This attachment provides two major benefits. First, your hands are free to maneuver the bike, which improves safety. Second, the attachment absorbs shock if your dog suddenly pulls the leash. You are less likely to fall over if your dog starts chasing a squirrel.
- A retractable dog leash is more forgiving. Being solidly connected with your pup is important. Having a retractable leash that can take up the slack or let your dog go a bit more will make things much easier. For example, if your dog takes a sudden turn, you can let the leash go a bit which gives you time to hit the brakes.
- A harness is another must-have piece of equipment if you are biking with your dog. The harness supports your dog’s whole body and is much safer than a collar. It spreads out the load and reduces the strain on your dog’s neck. Additionally, your dog is less likely to slip out of a harness and run away. You can buy a dog harness online or at most pet stores.
- Gentle Leaders reduce pulling. These are made by Petsafe. These are an excellent way to minimize the amount your dog pulls on their leash. You will need to teach your dog how it works and teach them to be comfortable in it before using it with your bicycle. The Gentle Leader is used by the leading non-profit organization that trains service dogs for people with disabilities. They are much more effective than any kind of choke collar in teaching your dog not to pull on their leash.
- Make sure your dog is visible. Mainly if you are biking in the dark, we recommend wearing a reflective vest on your dog. While your bike and clothes may have some reflective elements, drivers don’t usually expect a dog is running beside the bike. If your dog wears a reflective vest, he will be spotted instantly. During the day, the bright color of the vest also makes him more visible. A driver who notices the dog will be more careful when passing you.
- Train your dog to heel while you are walking. Your dog should also have a good understanding of commands such as “Heel”, “stop” and “wait.” Teaching your dog to “heel” and to sit when you stop walking will make both of your outings much more fun.
- Start slowly and go short when first biking with your dog. Even if all goes well, make your first exercise short. Start first with walking your bicycle with your dog to get them comfortable with it and the noises it makes. Second, your dog’s attention span may be short. Third, before you both learn all the ins and outs of the activity, you better be near home just in case. Just go around the same route that you’ve taken them walking before.
- Extend the length of the activity gradually. No marathoner gets ready in one day. Just as you start slowly, gradually increase sthe length of the activity and the distance traveled by bike. Each day, add a small amount of time; after just a few weeks, you might be able to ride safely with your dog and know that he is enjoying the ride.
- Don’t forget about your dog’s basic needs. Physical activity stimulates bowel movements and passing of urine (which is very beneficial for your dog’s health!).
- A basket isn’t the safest. It’s much better for you and your dog if they aren’t in a basket. After all, they won’t get any exercise if they are riding. Worse, your dog can get severely injured or killed if you have an accident with your bicycle with them in a basket. It’s much better if your best friend is on the ground, on all four paws. They’ll enjoy it much more, they’ll sleep better since they are tired, and the exercise will keep them in shape. After all,
Remember, safety is the number one concern. Make sure your pup has their safety gear on and so do you. Be extra careful about traffic safety as your dog doesn’t know what that people drive crazy at times. Most importantly, pay extra attention to your dog’s health during exercise. Make this activity something fun that they will look forward to as it provides an enormous benefit to your pet’s health. As a side benefit, you will enjoy the health benefits too by knowing how to bike safely with your dog.